Beginning our 7th year and over 2500 pages. A blog for fans of Track and Field from the 1950's and 60's, culled from various articles in sports journals of the day with added commentaries from readers who lived and ran and coached in that era.
We're the equivalent of an American Legion post of Track and Field but without cheap beer. You may contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or write a comment at the end of a given posting.
Monday, September 15, 2014
Vol. 4 No. 68 More Nike, Adidas, Tiger Shoe History
Without trying to be redundant, I'm combining pictures and letters from a recent posting along with this most recent letter from John Bork, Jr. All the pieces should help us remember and maybe clarify the evolution of events around 1972 up through 1976 regarding the appearance of Nike on the scene. The story came from my putting a picture of Jack Bacheler, Steve Prefontaine, and Jeff Galloway on our site showing the three of them side by side, Prefontaine wearing Adidas, and Bacheler and Galloway wearing some early Nikes. Phil Scott picked up on this and Rick Lower added understanding to the picture and now John Bork has helped with his input. Thanks to all three.
Here's the picture that started this off:
Jeff Galloway, Steve Prefontaine, Jack Bacheler
George: Interesting article about Jack ! I could not help noticing in the picture of Jack,
Pre & Galloway that Pre is wearing Adidas other two Nike???:)s Phil Scott
9:28 AM (6 hours ago)
Phil, thanks for pointing that out. This is probably around 1972. I think Pre wore Adidas at Munich.
Don't know about Bacheler and Galloway. The shoe business was in transition then with Nike coming
on the scene, we'd have to review pictures of these guys from 72 to 76 to try to follow the transition.
Probably some pictures would be deceptive as they may have just been 'trying out the new shoes'.
I'll write my friend Rick Lower at Nike to see what he has to say
Phil’s question is a good one, and a story that I use all the time to reinforce Nike’s mission of making
athletes better. As you know, Pre was uncompromising in every way, and that extended to his
footwear. Bowerman worked very hard to get Pre into his handmade shoes, and Phil did the same
with the imported Tiger product. Both products were simply not good enough for him, and he really
helped pushed BRS to get better. He didn’t start regularly using our product until 73’. Adidas spikes at
that time were so superior to ours, that no one would risk switching. Training shoe selection depended
on how important cushioning was to you. The Adidas shoes were much better constructed regarding
fit/upper comfort, but lacked cushioning for high mileage. Our product lacked the crafted construction, but had better cushioning. Pre, being more of a middle distance guys was more suited to Adidas product.
It’s ironic that now we dominate with our spikes, and still struggle with hard core runners preferring
our training product.
Looking at the photo, I’m guessing it might have been taken at the 72’ pre-Olympic camp in Maine.
At that time there was early Nike product being used by top athletes. The Obori flat was our first legit
racing product. Also, Galloway was a close friend of Geoff Hollister, so he probably was a pipeline for
early footwear on the Florida TC guys.
Below from the website Arkamix
The Nike marathon shoe Obori, borrows its name from the Obori (officially pronounced Ohori), park
situated within the running course.
Because the shoes were originally launched from Onitsuka Tiger shoes, a championship held in Japan
became the origin for its name. However, when Jon Anderson wore the Nike Obori and won the Boston Marathon Nike decided to change the name into Boston !Whatever the background and trivia, these shoes were named Boston by the goddess of Victory who smiled upon Anderson :)
Here is John Bork's letter: Dear George:
Munich 1972 is pre-Nike. I think that I can say as the USA Onitsuka-Tiger Representative
that there was not a single pair of Nikes available to the Olympians at Munich.
Shorter had worn Tiger Bostons for training and the Tiger Ohbori for racing.
The Ohbori was a Tiger Model. It was actually designed specifically for Frank Shorter's foot
on Onitsuka's Glass-Foot X-Ray pressure plate technology.
He was fitted with this shoe during one of his 2 victories at the famous Fukuoka Marathon.
I am not sure that Nike ever copied the Ohbori.
However, they did make copies of the Onisuka Tiger Boston, Cortez, and Marathon.
In their lawsuit in 1973-1974 they.claimed that they owned the designs and names. Both companies
continued to produce these three designs side by side.
But, Nike won the right to the names only.................................., (Long Story)
However, at Munich Tiger was not paying athletes so, Adidas made a copy of the
Tiger Ohbori for Frank which he won the marathon in.
Before and thereafter Frank wore nothing but Tigers .
Kenny Moore and Jack Bacheler ran the Munich Marathon in Tiger Shoes. All were
training in Tigers.
However, Frank Shorter Wore Adidas Spikes in the 10,000M and Prefontaine wore
Adidas Spikes in the Munich 5,000M
I do not have a recollection of what Galloway's shoe preferences were. I think early on he
wore Tiger and then switched to Nike's when he got into the Retail running shoe business himself.
Going back to Mexico City in 1968 - Jack Bacheler made the final in the 5,000M wearing
68 Spikes,.Maroon with white stripes.
Jack got Dysentary aka: Montezuma's Revenge and could not make the start for the 5K.
Bill Toomey also wore Onitsuka-Tiger Spikes in the Decathlon Pole Vault to make a statement that
he was not taking money.
( Wade Bell also could not make the 800M final due to Montezuma's Revenge,)
Sadly the USA Medical and Training Staff did not provide our team with meds that could ward off the
dysentary. For myself, I went to our Strider Doctor, Harry Silver who prescibed me Entroviaform to
every day in Mexico City and also, Lomotil to plug me up if I started to "run" . I only had to use the
Lomotil one day the next day I was back to normal.. Stupid, Stupid, Stupid. (Can you imagine the homestretch run bewtween Wade Bell (Oregon) and Ralph Doubell (Australia), if Wade Bell had been able to run the
Over the years, I was Jack Bacheler's primary supplier for his training and racing shoes thru 1976.
Like a lot of runners he was probably not adverse to trying new shoes like the Nikes from time to time.
But, throughout his career he wore Tiger's..
Shorter's training preferance for years was the Tiger Boston. I was a little worried about this since it
had onlya 1/2 in heel but, I Frank had great biomechanics, was light in weight and never had a problem. The cushioning was adequate for him, as well.
Coming into the 1976 Montreal Olympics , Nike was coming on and getting athlete's attention,
At the1976 Olympic Marathon Trials in Eugene Trials I lost almost all of my 30-40 marathoners to
to new Nike Waffle racer. But, while this shoe worked well for shorter races like the 10K
on both roads and track., At Eugene the vast majority of the contestants got waffle pattern of
blisters on the bottom of their feet.
So, I got back all the guys back in the near future. Shorter However, was feeling neglected by
Tiger ,who would not let me deal directly with Frank until he switched to Nike prior to the 1976 Olympic Trials. When we lost Frank, Mr. Kitami, our Export Director, urged me to engage Frank. Frank explained to me that part of his reason for switching to Nike was that so many of the best runners were going Nike and he had great guilt about not convincing Pre the night he died to allow Frank to drive him home. And, Pre along with Kenny Moore, etc.were Oregon guys.
But, Frank had a clause in his "Nike contract" in 1976 that allowed him an out if the shoes did not meet
his satisfaction .
At Montreal, where Frank and his Wife were staying at the Nike "compound: called me about 10 days
before the marathon and explained that the Nike Marathon Flats were not owking fopr him. They were
making a new pair of racing flats each day for about a 10-14 day period,. All of the shoes stretched out or,
in other ways were not comfortable to Frank.
So, he called me and asked if we would supply him with his personal Ohbori's if we'd compensate him in
the same manner that was called for in his Nike Agreement.
Of, course, I agreed,.....stunned, as I was. So we flew a staff member from Japan to LA with 2 pair of
Ohboris. And Peter Sakurai flew to LA to meet him and bring the shoes back to Montreal where I
presentedthem to Frank. We did not know what Frank was going to wear for the marathon until he came out on the infield with all the competitors. As he sat down to put on his racing flats we could not see him behind the field of milling runners til finally he stood up and came into view wearing a bright yellow pair of Tiger Ohbori's. Tiger's Not Nike's
Bill Rogers, Marathon - also wore Tiger racing flats in the Montreal Olympics And before at the Trials.
At Montreal we had the following Runners in Tiger Spikes.
Lassee Viren - 5,000M and 10,000M. Double Gold
Frank (Paul?) Geis - Oregon - 5K (Switched him from Adidas)
Duncan McDonald - Stanford - 5,000M finalist.
Bill Jankunis - High Jump Qualifying. (He stiffed me after agreeing to
wear Tiger, & making the finals by qualifying in Tiger HJ Shoes.
Then he stiffed me and wore Puma's in the Finals, taking money from us both.
Irena Szewinski,Poland Women;s 400M Champion in WR time: 49.28
There were others including Kenyans at 1500M and 5000M who never ran their finals when
Kenya and most of the Balck African Nations boycotted the precense of the integrated N. Rhodesian team.
It was just non sense. (the boycott I think was due to the New Zealand rugby team playing a game in
South Africa. ed. This would have been Henry Rono's chance to run in the Olympics. In his book he
states that Kenyan officials took a lot of money to pull out of the games.ed. )
I could be wrong but, I do not believe that any athletes ran finals in Nike Shoes. They were still a fledgling
company as Shorter's troubles with his racing flats suggest. Nike did not have acceptable spike shoes yet
By 1980 Jimmy Carter disappointed us all by cancelling the Participation in the Moscow Olympics.
And, as a result, I had my program with Pony International cancelled when the USA and many others
pulled out of the Games. (and now we are the ones with a presence in Afghanistan ed.)
That ended my life in the Athletic Footwear Industry and the stinit prior in 11977-78 with Runner's World -
where I served as a member of the 10 man panel rating the top training and racing flats in the Runner's
World Shoe Survery. John Bork, Jr. from George Brose Just a few weeks after the Montreal Olympics, Frank Shorter appeared at the Charleston Distance Run in Charleston WV. It was a fifteen mile race, which he won that year. The night before the race, he gave a talk and was wearing a new pair of Nikes that no one had ever seen. The main question asked after his talk was, :What are you wearing on your feet, Frank? It was a pair of Nike Sting, green and orange. We had never ever seen anything like this before. Really a breakout color design. I don't know if he wore them in the race, probably not. I have a pictureof him taken at Boston in 1978, and he was wearing the familiar yellow and blue Tigers.
Nike Sting circa 1976
George: I enjoyed John Bork Tiger shoe history. Being a multi event athlete I had a bag full of shoes
(sprint shoes,hj, sp&d, jav, training shoes) I won nationals twice. Never received even a shoe lace
,never expected anything. If I would have got $ for wearing a mfg.
Shoes. I would have used money to buy more shoes:) I WORE PUMA, ADIDAS, TIGER & NIKE in